China's industrial output is expected to grow 8 percent annually during the remainder of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period, down from 11.7 percent in 2011, the State Council said in its first medium- to long-term industrial restructuring and upgrading plan on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said the deceleration was a sign that the central government would focus on quality rather than speed during the next four years.

"The plan requires a proper balance of quality and quantity in industrial development and a greater emphasis on innovation, technological improvement and energy conservation," the ministry said.

Industry experts agreed with that assessment.

Yuan Lei, deputy director of the Institute of Industrial Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told National Business Daily that 8 percent was a very low goal. Even during the financial crisis, industrial production growth didn't dip below 6 percent.

Yuan noted that the target was lower than that set for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2005-10) period. "The reason is the country has decided to undertake an industrial transformation. If the aim is too high, local governments may pay more attention to speed rather than quality," Yuan said.

Under the plan, which aims to shift the foundation of industrial growth from labor-oriented to value-added, research and development spending by large companies is expected to account for about 1 percent of their sales during the period.

The proportion will be at least 3 percent for major industrial enterprises, while the number of patents held by Chinese enterprises is expected to double.

China aims to boost the percentage of emerging industries' output to 15 percent of the total by 2015 for a better industrial structure, according to the plan.

Meanwhile, the country is to reduce pollution and curb capacity in energy-intensive industries. Energy consumption for each unit of added value in industrial output is expected to drop by 21 percent from the levels at the end of 2010, and water consumption should slide 30 percent, while carbon emissions need to be "largely reduced", according to the plan.

Yuan added that industrial companies should become more innovative, use advanced technology to save energy and eliminate obsolete capacity.

Companies are being encouraged to improve product quality, create local brands, raise competitiveness through technological updating and explore overseas markets.

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